The Most Famous Hotels to Book in London

The Ritz London is most famous for its afternoon tea in the Palm Court
The Ritz London is most famous for its afternoon tea in the Palm Court | Courtesy of the Ritz London / Expedia
Abigail Malbon

Afternoon tea at the Ritz, celeb-spotting at Chiltern Firehouse or glamming it up at Claridge’s – many hotels in London are world-famous. Royal residences, historic landmarks and famous film locations lurk around almost every corner of central London; and in one of the world’s most recognisable cities, there are plenty of places to stay with equal prestige. Perhaps you’re after somewhere with Hollywood’s seal of approval, or you want to pamper yourself in the suite where Kate Middleton spent the night before her wedding to Prince William. London’s hotels have notoriety and glamour in spades, and none more so than the following places – all bookable via Culture Trip.

1. Brown's Hotel, for historical elegance in Mayfair

Spa Hotel

Luxe traditional dining room with wood panelling, mouldings and plush seating at historic Browns Hotel in London
Courtesy of Brown's Hotel / Expedia

Situated in swanky Mayfair, Brown’s Hotel has been entertaining the world’s finest since 1837, thanks to its stunning decor, elegant rooms and world-renowned classy service. Expect lavish Irene Forte toiletries, generous floor space and a Bentley chauffeur service as standard. The list of happenings at this regal building, including Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call and the writing of The Jungle Book (1894), make Brown’s one of the most famous hotels in London. Peckish? Follow in the footsteps of Queen Victoria by booking afternoon tea in the drawing room.

2. The Savoy, for revamped classic luxury

Hotel

Luxurious guest room with antique furniture, ornate drapes and large windows at the Savoy, Covent Garden
Courtesy of the Savoy / Expedia.com

As the cream of the crop, the Savoy is as much a part of London as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. Opened in 1889, this historic hotel in London was a groundbreaker at the time, thanks to the installation of electric lights and lifts. Now Grade II-listed, it underwent a complete revamp in 2010, with the designers sticking to the original look but with added comforts.

3. The Ritz London, for afternoon tea

Suite Hotel, Chain Hotel, Spa Hotel, Hotel

The luxurious interiors with plush seating and chandeliers at the Ritz London
Courtesy of the Ritz London / Expedia

Sister of the Paris hotel, the Ritz London is probably best known for its afternoon teas, served from 11.30am to 7.30pm daily, comprising a delectable selection of dainty sandwiches, cakes and pastries. It featured heavily in the film Notting Hill (1999), when Hugh Grant’s character pretended to be a writer for Horse & Hound to interview Julia Roberts. Stay on a Friday night for dinner and dancing and you’ll feel as though you’ve travelled back in time.

4. The Dorchester, for the deepest baths in London

Hotel

The Harlequin Penthouse with luxe decor and floor-to-ceiling windows, opening to a large balcony at the Dorchester in London
Courtesy of the Dorchester / Expedia

This historic hotel on Park Lane opened in 1931 and still features much of its 1930s decor. Over the decades, it has played host to a string of well-known faces, including Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who often holed up in the penthouse. Prince Philip had his stag do here before marrying Her Majesty the Queen. In terms of interiors, things are as traditional, luxurious and opulent as you’d expect. Interesting fact: the hotel claims to have the deepest baths in London.

5. The Portobello Hotel, for rock 'n' roll opulence in Notting Hill

Boutique Hotel

Ornate four-poster bed and plush curtains, plus French doors opening to a garden-view balcony at the Portobello Hotel
Courtesy the Portobello Hotel / Expedia
Johnny Depp and Kate Moss put this hotel on the map in the 1990s after allegedly filling a bathtub with champagne. But honestly, one look at those fabulous Victorian tubs and you’ll see why they were tempted. The tiny hotel, with 21 Belle Époque-style rooms, was the merger of two Neoclassical mansions in a quiet street in trendy Notting Hill. Each room has atmospheric features and round beds, and thanks to guests such as Alice Cooper and Robbie Williams, it has become a favourite among the rock ‘n’ roll crowd.

6. Royal Lancaster London, for 1960s flair in Paddington

Hotel

The stylish and expansive circular lobby space at the Royal Lancaster London
Courtesy of Royal Lancaster London / Expedia
A hop and a skip from Hyde Park, the Royal Lancaster London came to fame after a cameo appearance in the Michael Caine box-office hit The Italian Job (1969). The decor is a throwback to its dapper heyday, with plenty of classy 1960s touches such as azure crushed-velvet sofas and retro carpeting. Large picture windows are a neat touch – so you can spend your evenings watching the sun sink behind the city skyline from the luxury-linen comfort of your king-size bed. Start your day with breakfast at the Park Restaurant: its traditional full English garners glowing reviews.

7. The Goring, for a royals hangout in Westminster

Independent Hotel

Luxe king bedroom with ornate wallpaper, carved wood furnishings and French doors to outdoors at the Goring in London
Courtesy of the Goring / Expedia

The Goring is the famous London hotel where Kate Middleton spent the night before her wedding to Prince William in 2011. A favourite among the royals, it is the only hotel awarded a Royal Warrant for hospitality services to the Queen. The entire Middleton clan stayed here – Kate’s parents, Carole and Michael, as well as siblings Pippa and James. Tucked behind Buckingham Palace, the Westminster location is handy for Westminster Abbey, but it’s the traditionally English interior that lends the hotel real charm. Opened by Otto Richard Goring in 1910, the owners say it was the first hotel to offer all en-suite rooms, and it remains in the Goring family to this day.

8. St Ermin’s Hotel, for cinematic cachet in Westminster

Boutique Hotel

The ornate, Baroque-style interiors with large staircase and inlaid tile floors at St Ermin’s Hotel in Westminster, London
Courtesy of St Ermin’s Hotel / Expedia

Discreetly located at the end of a drive canopied by branches and greenery next to St James’s Park, St Ermin’s Hotel, built in 1899, was the hub of covert operations during World War II. Since then, film-makers have been drawn to its grand Victorian facade, regal surroundings (Buckingham Palace is minutes away) and ornate, Baroque-style interior. The rooftop served as the setting for Sid and Nancy’s riotous toy-pistol gunplay in the 1986 punk biopic, and the glamorous Art Nouveau decor was the backdrop to George and Simone’s hurried meeting in Mona Lisa (1986). Rooms are equally classic with marbled bathrooms, luxury White Company toiletries and 24-hour room service.

9. Hazlitt’s, for historic charm in Soho

Boutique Hotel

Elegant yet cosy guest room with carved wood canopy bed, red accents, plush carpet and artwork at Hazlitt’s Hotel in London
Courtesy of Hazlitt’s Hotel / Hotels.com

Located on Frith Street in Soho, this 18th-century building is the former home of essayist William Hazlitt, who died in poverty in 1830. However, the exclusive London hotel feels incredibly authentic, even to this day. The floorboards still slope, the door frames can be wonky, and the rooms are decorated with traditional paintings. Of course, it comes with a whole heap of charm, including Hazlitt’s cabinet of curiosities and an honesty bar, so you’re guaranteed to feel at home.

10. St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London, for Victorian grandeur in King's Cross

Boutique Hotel, Suite Hotel, Business Hotel, Hotel

The refined living room interiors with high ceilings at the Haywood Suite at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel London
Courtesy of St Pancras Renaissance Hotel / Expedia
Opened in 1873, this hotel next to St Pancras railway station was once known as the Midland Grand. By 1930, it was used as offices after becoming too expensive to heat, and, following a huge refurb, it reopened in 2011. Fans of Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) or Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) will probably recognise it, but tourists are bound to have noticed the impressive building, too. The interior is almost as showstopping as the facade, with lots of gold leaf and marble and an impressively grand staircase.

11. The Langham, for posh cocktails in Mayfair

Hotel

The elegant living space interiors with artwork and large picture windows at the Langham in Mayfair, London
Courtesy of the Langham / Expedia
Built between 1863 and 1865, at a whopping £300,000 (at the time), the Langham was considered London’s first grand hotel. This posh hotel is London through and through, and today focuses on experience. The Artesian Bar was voted the world’s best bar four years in a row (2011-2015), so head here for a cocktail and watch the world go by.

12. Claridge's, for white-glove service in Mayfair

Spa Hotel, Hotel

Large chandelier, checkerboard-tiled floor, leather armchairs and colonnades by the arches in the ornate lobby of Claridges in London
Courtesy of Claridge's / Expedia
Claridge’s is an elegant Mayfair institution that’s often referred to as the “annexe to Buckingham Palace” – though it would never be so indiscreet. Founded in 1812, it flourished during the 1920s flapper years, ushered in royalty during the 1940s, and played white-gloved confidante to stars such as Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn and Bing Crosby during the 1950s. But it’s not one to languish in the past: Diane von Furstenberg, who first stayed here in the 1970s, was drafted in to dress up the rooms, and other designers who have made their mark include David Linley, Thierry Despont and David Collins. Need further proof of pedigree? Supermodel Kate Moss held her 30th birthday here.

None of these take your fancy? See our top pick of the best luxury hotels in London. Or, for something a little out of the ordinary, discover our guide to the most unusual hotels in the UK and book now on Culture Trip.

Molly Codyre, Chloe Byrne and Sam Moakes contributed additional reporting to this article.

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